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Thank You Gary
The shock death of Gary Moore at 58 has left a huge void in Irish music. Here, one of his oldest collaborators discusses their wasted youth in Dublin and friendships that lasted a lifetime.
Tim Booth, 25 Feb 2011
Sometime around 1968 I am in The Bailey, Dublin’s trendiest bar. I become aware of this skinny boy from Belfast sitting by my side, dark hair falling over his eyes. He is nervous, shy and a bit twitchy, his left hand making shapes on an invisible guitar, a brown corduroy coat too tight across the shoulders. Philip says: “This is Gary, man, our new guitar player. He needs a place to crash.”
So Gary moved into the house I shared with Ivan and Mary in Sandymount for what became the very best of days, even though money and the times were tight. I was playing in Dr. Strangely Strange, and we rehearsed in the house. When Gary was not out and about working, he would augment our ensemble, sometimes on guitar, other times mandolin or fiddle, even banjo. He could play very passable bluegrass on any of these. He once brought a sitar back. There was no pinnning us down. We’d be off down to Slattery’s basement of a Sunday night for a spot of poetry and, er, music, with or without the aid of fashionable pharma.
There were drugs. A lot of cannabis and a touch or two of Dr. Leary’s fabled turn-on. This was preferable, we knew, to the nasty speedy pills Gary favoured when first we met. There were also laughs, rib-shifting and profound, especially when Tim Goulding came by, and inevitably when we played music all together. Strangelies were in and out a lot, off on tour in England or on the continent, loading the plastic-wrapped Harmonium onto the roof of Tim G’s worthy mustard yellow Renault 4, the PA and sundries in a trailer, towed behind. So it was easy for Gary and myself to take our guitars and boogie down to Slattery’s, there to perform a guest spot. On one particular day I had ingested a healthy whack of lysergic and this came upon me as we took the stage. It made for an interesting set. Gary towed me along in the wake of his guitar and the audience were none the wiser. Gary, however, sussed me. All it took was for him to look me in the eye. The gig was in the basement of the pub, down a narrow firetrap stairs, at the bottom of which a broom cupboard fitted flush with the beauty-boarded wall. When we made our exit, I heard Gary’s voice: “Let’s take the lift man...” He took hold of my arm.